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Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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mini location map2014-05-18
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Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar May 18 2014
Hiking22.70 Miles 4,159 AEG
Hiking22.70 Miles   6 Hrs   23 Mns   4.31 mph
4,159 ft AEG   1 Hour   7 Mns Break
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After my nice time at Camp May and Fisher Point warm-up hike, it was time to hit the AZT. Thanks to Tracy for coming up with this one considering I was near Mormon Lake with the rest of the crew being in the Valley. This shuttle worked out just right as I met up with the crew at the Pine TH at 9 AM and we shuttled in Shawn's vehicle over to Twin Buttes, the true TH for this segment.

I was worried that it might be a bit warm but we were lucky to have filtered light most of the day as well as a breeze and wind for this hike :) . Once we found the almost unmarked TH, we geared up and headed on down the road, literally... until you get to the power lines that takes you south on the road below the power line for a couple miles. The views are wide. As you get further south you can glance back at the Coconino Rim and then at the Mazatzals rising high into the sky. I was very impressed by the background around us.

We made pretty good time on the road portion. We did nearly 5 miles in two hours by the time we reached our first break which was caused by a log over the trail. The trail goes from rocky to smooth off and on almost during this whole hike. When you hit the soft sections, it sure is nice as you can hike and gawk a little. We did see some Mariposa Lillys, Verbena and Paintbrush from time to time.

Hiking on the mesa is so different from hiking where you can see a trail or an end or a beginning but it feels like you're mostly in the middle. We could see the far off mountains for a lot of it including the Four Peaks or from this view Two Peaks. We did pass by a few tanks, two caged rock barriers, 4 or 5 fences to go thru, grassy areas both golden and green and up and down a few sections but always on the mesa...I think.

About 7 miles in we hit that one extremely straight up rocky hill; thank goodness it was short :sweat: .
We stopped for lunch near the top of the hill and discussed how we could help make the Arizona Trail better and get more funding :SB: . Shawn is such a great steward of the AZT and is mindful of all the things that have been done and should be done. For example, they are considering a reroute of this trail that takes you more directly to LF Ranch.

As to funding for the AZT, we had several ideas and thots but it's a matter of how to bring them to the forefront for consideration. Personally I am contributing to Sirena's current campaign by donating money as birthday or other gifts on behalf of others. I wish I had thot to do that sooner (all money goes to trail and there is cool swag involved). I don't know how the adopt a section of the AZT has been going; haven't heard much on that.
Anyway, back to the hike. Once we topped off that hill we continued in a more or less downward trend from rocky to nice trail until we reached one of the highlights of the hike, Oak Spring :D . Along the way in this section we started seeing more cactus and agave and those little round belly cactus("belly" is what Ambika calls plants that you nearly have to get on the ground to photograph). We also passed a bush that had little white lilac-like blooms. We hadn't seen anything like that before so were careful to get some pictures. Of course, lo and behold around the corner and along the way, there would be many more of these bushes.

At the Oak Spring area, it would have been easy to keep hiking on the trail but Tracy decided we needed to check out the spring and thank gosh because this was certainly a highlight of our day with the beautiful and abundant Yellow Columbine. What a pretty site :DANCE: . The trail stays mostly flat as you wander down here toward the little mountain you have to climb. The UP was not too bad though as it leveled from time to time. The shale on the other hand was a bit of a pain but not too bad. As we got higher Shawn looked over and said over there was the Tonto Bridge area and sure enough, there it was.

We continued winding our way up the mountainside : rambo : when we finally hit flat ground though once again, rocky from time to time. It was interesting going through the remnants of the cleared forest with still standing slash piles. It would be a bit more overcast during this section so it created an interesting aura. We did see some white tail deer as we got closer to Bradshaw Tank. Fortunately there was a log alongside the trail that made the perfect place to sit and enjoy the view of the Tank with the surrounding Rim country.

Now it was time to get 'er done. At this point we had a pitcher of lemonade on our mind and I was thinking "pear beer" as we would detour away from the trail just before reaching the 87 and hike cross country to That Brewery. We had dinner (don't order the peach cobbler) and then walked over to the TH (so technically should add about 1/4 mile to hike) to retrieve MYTONTO Jr for the ride back to the TH.

A good day on the trail with my AZT mates and the weather couldn't have been better.

Six videos but I tried to keep them under 10 minutes each... I know, still too long but I want to make sure the trail is well documented.

Part 1: [ youtube video ] ...
Part 2: continuing on the mesa, passing tanks etc [ youtube video ] ...
Part 3: to Oak Spring (it's beautiful) [ youtube video ] ...
Remaining videos are under production as of May 22.
Named place
Named place
Bradshaw Tank East Tank
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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